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Preserving your Family History - background

Preserving your Family History – A Personal Look

July 7th, 2015 by

Cindy_Tyler_DC Trip

My son (Tyler) and I took a trip to Washington, DC recently, enjoying our own special trip with my sister, Elizabeth.  It was a gift from my sister and brother-in-law.  They wanted us to have a mother-son experience that we will always remember.

It seems a bit selfish of us.  That is until you realize that when the Florida State Seminoles football team traveled to the Rose Bowl to WIN the National Championship game, my husband and my older son were treated with tickets and their own father-son trip of a lifetime.  So, it was our time for creating memories on our own adventure.

We had an amazing time of fun and fellowship, and of learning.  We learned (after several missed stops and wrong trains when my sister and I were in charge) that Tyler is a navigator and could get us anywhere on the Metro line with ease.  We learned that we are all good travel companions and that being able to roll with whatever came our way made the trip fun.  And, I hope my son learned that although I am his Mom, I can be fun, and that my sister and I can laugh and be silly together even in our old old age.

I know I will be looking back on that trip from a lot of different angles, in addition to the importance of my experience with Tyler and Elizabeth.

  • I have a new love for history.  In my opinion, you can not travel to Washington, DC and not take away a huge respect for our American history.  But this trip was different for me.  I learned these people who were so critical to the creation of our nation were just people.  And the more I learned about their lives, the more connected I felt to them and their cause.
  • Preserving history matters.  I have a photocopy of my great-great-grandfather’s journal that he wrote as he traveled from the northeast down to Florida to establish a new home for his family.  The stories of the people he met, the churches he visited on Sundays going through each town, and the mosquitoes he endured matter to me – probably more than they mattered to him.  It turns the idea of a “great-great-grandfather” into a person.
  • We don’t know that history matters when it is happening.  It is only after time that we realize the importance of  our experiences.  Sitting in Ford’s Theater, I thought “Wow.  It is so great that someone a long time ago realized that this place would matter to me and my son.  They have preserved it all these years.”  Not so.  Lincoln was shot in April, 1865 and the theater was not opened as a museum until 1931, but only for 2 years.  Then, it was not until 1968 that it become a national historical site and reopened to the public.  (Read more about Ford’s Theater HERE).
  • What important history has been lost?   Without documents, photographs, written testimonies, and the verbal passing on of information, preservation is impossible.  My cousin was visiting recently.  Because his mother’s only sibling was my father, he sat with us and asked question after question.  Things like, “Did Mom teach school before or after my parents were married?”  “I don’t know much about where she grew up, tell me what you can remember.”  “What were her grandparents like?”   He also mentioned that it wasn’t until his mother’s death that he realized he wanted that information, and may not have a way to find it now.

 

So, that leaves me with this…  

  • What are we doing to preserve our family?  Our history?
  • How will our grandchildren know us without knowing our childhood?
  • How will our great grandchildren know why beekeeping matters to our family (don’t know why? Someday I will need to explain.), and why it might matter to them?

We have a responsibility to document who we are and what we know, because if we don’t take the appropriate action it will be lost.  That seems a bit dramatic, but I now fully understand that without photographs and documents, I would not know about my family, my nation, my world without it.  And, I learned that it DOES matter to me!

 

Sources for you to look at on how to preserve your family history and documents:

http://www.loc.gov/preservation/family

http://www.mnhs.org/people/mngg/stories

DC

Originally posted July, 2014

 

Comments

  1. Karen Lewis, sister, July 27, 2014
    Cindy, nice piece. Good call to us all. And we have to be deliberate. Those old photos you and I cling to to shape our mental images were accidentally left for us. They were made and kept for their present days. Thank goodness for the shoeboxes and envelopes we somehow still have. How are our cloud photos going to fair? I can't figure out how to get my photos from ten years ago off the 3 by 3 hard cased floppy discs I've so carefully saved. It makes that optional hardback book of photos CVS wants me to have make sense. Reply

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